When I was young I read Hemmingway’s 1926 novel Fiesta (published as The sun Also Rises in the USA) in which he describes at length the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

The story revolves around a group of people that are having a pretty amazing time and as someone who already loved Spain and had spent quite a bit of time there I was intrigued by the romance of the whole event. I was convinced that one day I would go there and take part. The novel also describes the bull fight that happens after. I kind of skipped over much of that as I was not really sure about it then.

Roll forward 30 years or so and I decided quite some years ago that bull fighting was not for me. Not because I was swayed by protests or action to stop what is a pretty barbaric act. But because I had decided for myself that the slaughter of a living animal should not be for recreational entertainment. And thus also the running with the bulls was off the itinerary. Of course it had also become less of a spectacle and more of a bunfight as thousands of tourists try to experience the adrenalin rush it provides.

So when I went to my sister’s farm with my new found running prowess I had little idea it would lead to my own “running with the bulls” moment of glory.

My sister and her husband farm the National Trust farm on the end of Lizard point, about 250 acres of mixed arable and grazing land. The grow crops and the grazing is stocked with sheep and cows. So the first day I was there I set of on a route that took in Kynance cove and then looped round past the lighthouse and back up the fields from Housal bay and home. About 7.5 kilometres in total.

It was a good run but on retuning to the farmhouse I learned my fate had been decided. Someone had to run in front of the cows as they were moved from one side of the farm to the other. Perhaps then this was my chance to get that pure nostalgia and romance injection without the animal suffering that happens at the real bullrun.

However, there are a number of things slightly different.

  • There is only one bull in the herd of 47 cows and calves.
  • It was Cornwall in late October not July in Northern Spain.
  • there were no spectators apart from a group of lucky Welsh Farmers on a coach trip.
  • there was 47 mixed happy cattle instead of 6 very angry fighting bulls.
  • the cattle were just being moved to a new pasture. Not to the bullring for the nights entertainment.

First we rounded the cattle up to the top of the lighthouse field. Then at the appropriate moment the gates were swung open an I started running down the road toward the new field. I was a little concerned at first, there were some big cattle with some big horns, but it soon transpired that they where actually not that fast and definitely not very angry.

I moved at what i thought was a pretty good pace for a herd of cow and at first it was noisy and exciting. Then the sound died and there was a lot of shouting from behind the cows. Turns out they had found a juicy patch of grass verge to munch on and the front row had stopped dead forcing the ones at the back to jump into the field. This happened to be one full of crops so that go my sister a little annoyed.

Eventually we got them moving again and the ten or so that had jumped into the field were chased out of the field. At this point we turned the corner onto light house road. As I shot past the the entrance to the footpath that was protected by a cornish hedge I realised my 8 year old son had been left stationed in the gap on his own as the others had gone to rescue the crop.

It was a stand off that was only going to end with one winner as the very large full grown Hereford cross mooed loudly and advanced on the trying to be brave 8 year old who was backing up into the footpath. Luckily he backed toward the lighthouse preventing the cows from going that way but as there was a heard of cow between myself and him there was nothing I could do to rescue him.

Just then I saw Nevil the farm clear the hedge on the crops field and run up and over the hedge of the footpath and come to his rescue. The cattle were shooed up the path and followed the others through the gate. We were not home and dry yet though as there was still 3 fields and a green lane for them to go through to reach the new pasture.

Field 1 was a cinch. Field 2 also, well it was for us but the walkers and their dogs that had strayed of the footpath had a bit of a shock as a herd of inquisitive cows came thundering through the field. Luckily for them they made it through the gate and for a change remembered to shut it. The cows stood and mooed frantically at them before we caught up and sent them through the final field and lane to the new pastures. Last I saw of them they were happily eating away at the new grass.

We concluded activities with a walk back to the car, it was a real family event with everyone taking part and a great chance to get outside. It is something you can do as well. The National Trust often provides voulenteers to Tregullas Farm to help with moving cattle or fencing. The farm can do with all the help they can so go ahead and get involved.

Henry Ayres #getsouside with the cows

© Jakki Moores